Counsel with the Lord

Counsel with the Lord

By Lani Axman

Have ye inquired of the Lord? –1 Nephi 15:8

The scriptures teach us, “[L]et your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare” (Alma 34:27). Perhaps at no other time is our welfare more important than when we are carrying a new life within us.  No one knows our bodies and their natural processes better than our Father and Creator, and He has not sent us to mortality without instructions.One morning I opened my scriptures to the second half of Matthew chapter 7 and soon found myself mentally singing the old Primary favorite: “The wise man built his house upon a rock…”  At first I smiled fondly to myself at the song, oblivious to the message God was trying to deliver.  Then, as I opened my mind, in an instant, the Holy Spirit flooded it with this:

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken [her] unto a wise [wo]man, which built [her] house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.  And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish [wo]man, which built [her] house upon the sand:  And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:24-27)

As this new insight washed over my heart and mind, I could see my own experience in those words.

When I was pregnant for the first and second times, it never occurred to me to consult with the Lord about my pregnancy or birth plans.  I suppose, in my mind, they were physical and temporal matters, so I consulted worldly sources—library books, baby reality t.v. shows, and websites.  In my third pregnancy, I approached everything differently—consulting with the Lord in almost every detail. Including Him changed my childbirth and postpartum experiences in profoundly positive ways. My third pregnancy and birth were built upon the rock—the Lord.

While pregnancy and birth are physical processes, they are (or can be) simultaneously deeply spiritual.  So how can we be like the wise woman who built her pregnancy and birth house upon a rock?  The Doctrine and Covenants is full of helpful wisdom:

[S]eek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.  Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God. (D&C 88:118-119)

[S]tudy and learn, and become acquainted with all good books. (D&C 90:15)

But behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. (D&C 9:8)

God is eager for us to seek and hear His counsel in all matters, both temporal and spiritual. Sister Julie B. Beck declared in General Conference, “The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life.” [1] When we counsel with the Lord regarding our pregnancies and births, He expects us to do our part.  First, we must prayerfully study and learn all that we can from good sources.

Most book stores and libraries have an expansive array of pregnancy and birth books, but any two given books are likely to offer conflicting advice regarding tests, nutrition, procedures, medications, and even in regard to what is “normal.”  How are we to determine what is right or which are the “good books” that ought to be studied?

In the Doctrine and Covenants, the Lord gave the Church direction regarding the Apocrypha—a group of ancient writings not included in the Holy Bible.  He counseled: “There are many things contained therein that are true . . . . There are many things contained therein that are not true, which are interpolations by the hands of men. . . . Therefore, whoso readeth it, let him understand, for the Spirit manifesteth truth; And whoso is enlightened by the Spirit shall obtain benefit therefrom” (Doctine and Covenants 91:1-5). We can think of all those books on the library shelf as the “Apocrypha” of pregnancy and birth. Some of what they contain is true, but some of it is not. As we prayerfully study and let the Spirit enlighten our minds, He will manifest the truth to us.  As we determine what is true and weigh our options, we must select what feels right, and then take our choices to the Lord for a confirmation.

The Lord will answer us, but even with the Lord’s confirming assurances, we may still encounter opposition and difficulty—whether from family, friends, care providers, or life circumstances.  During my third pregnancy, after receiving a clear answer from the Lord of the unusual path we should take, I still found my faith wavering on occasion as I allowed my fears to cloud my faith.  I struggled to do as Proverbs 3:5 urges us:  “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.”

In such moments, we may sympathize with the children of Israel as they prepared to cross the Red Sea.  If they were to trust in logic or their “own understanding,” fear would most certainly have kept them rooted on the water’s edge, incapable of stepping forward into the parted sea. Elder Holland urges us:

After you have gotten the message, after you have paid the price to feel His love and hear the word of the Lord, go forward. Don’t fear, don’t vacillate, don’t quibble, don’t whine. . . . Nobody had ever crossed the Red Sea this way, but so what? There’s always a first time. With the spirit of revelation, dismiss your fears and wade in with both feet.[2]

Perhaps the Lord will instruct you to cross your own “Red Sea” as you navigate your pregnancy and birth journey.  This could mean following a seemingly illogical prompting to seek emergency medical attention when your gut tells you something is wrong with your baby.  This could mean choosing to give birth without pain medication when all of your friends and family say it’s impossible. Or your “Red Sea” could be a planned elective cesarean prompted by revelation. The right path isn’t always the logical path, or the easy path, or the path we had envisioned, but God’s guidance will always be in our best interest.  I pray that we may all become wise women, building our houses upon the rock of the Lord’s perfect counsel.

Notes

[1] Julie B. Beck, “And upon the Handmaids in Those Days Will I Pour Out My Spirit,” Liahona (May 2010).

[2] Jeffrey R. Holland, “‘Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence’,” Ensign (March 2000).

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